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Cupcake wine review 2013

cupcake wine review 2013The Wine Curmudgeon has discovered the flaw in the Cupcake Vineyards marketing juggernaut. It’s almost impossible to find the wines in a store, whether grocery or wine, that has any kind of inventory. It took me 10 minutes to locate the two bottles for this review, scuttling between aisles at my local Kroger; would a less determined consumer have done as much?

Maybe they would. Cupcake is the post-modern wine business success story, eclipsing even Barefoot and its millions and millions of cases. Three years after it started, Cupcake was named wine brand of the year, and its sales increased 67 percent in 2012, according to one market research firm.

Cupcake, as Blake Gray wrote last year, approaches wine from a different perspective. It markets its brand before it markets its products, so its customers don’t buy on varietal, like pinot noir, or region, like France, the way most of us do. Rather, its customers buy Cupcake first and worry about varietal and region later.

In this, the wine is marketed almost like women’s clothing, where Cupcake is the designer that shoppers look for before they look for a specific item like a dress or a skirt. That’s why Target has long offered designer collections, whether from Isaac Mizrahi, Jason Wu, or Phillip Lim.

None of this, of course, takes into account whether the wine offers value. That’s why I’m here – this year’s take is after the jump:

Winebits 240: Cupcake, wine shows, airline wine

Cupcake CEO speaks: David Kent, who runs The Wine Group, was interviewed by the MarketWatch trade magazine. Excerpts ran here and here. Kent’s company makes Cupcake and the Franzia boxed wines (among many others) and is one of the biggest in the world, and he knows the cheap wine business: “We prefer to define wines priced under $4 on a 750-ml. basis as ‘popular-priced,’ since many of their consumers don’t fit the classic definition of an economy shopper. Just ask our friends at Trader Joe’s. Popular-priced wine consumers know what they like and know what they need to pay for it. Franzia is an extraordinary brand because it appeals to consumers across all age and income demographics. It’s built on the idea that consumers prefer fresh, affordable wine to stale, potentially overpriced wine. It works.”

Mega-event canceled: And the high-end wine business still isn’t what it used to be, if this is any indication. France’s Vin-Expo is the ultimate in wine trade shows, featuring the best wines in the world – including all that stuff that most of us will never get a chance to taste. It had scheduled a New York consumer event for this fall, but couldn’t sell any space to wineries, reports the drinks business trade magazine. Only one-third of the producer slots were filled, so the event has been canceled. Two things stand out – first, that high-end wineries didn’t want to participate in an event like this, which speaks to their unease with the economy (as well as how much the organizers were charging them to participate). Second, even it had attracted enough wineries, would consumers have paid $180 to $300 to attend?

Best airlines for wine: Yes, I know – an oxymoron. But Departures, an on-line magazine, lists the five best anyway: Qantas, Air New Zealand, Malaysia, Qatar and – hard to believe – the bankrupt and legendarily poorly-run American. The caveat here is that the rankings only include wine service in the premium cabins, and not coach. Where, I know for a fact, the American wine selections often make stuff I won’t review on the blog seem good. (Full disclosure: I still do an occasional article for the company that publishes American’s in-flight magazine.)

Try a wine you don’t like

Wine drinkers are creatures of habit. Once we find a wine we like, it’s almost impossible to get us to try something different. That’s one reason why the wine business spends so much time and money on marketing gimmicks, cute wine labels, and the like. They know how difficult it is to overcome our lethargy.

But wine should not be that way. There are, at best guess, more than 15,000 different wines on sale in the U.S., so it’s not like we don’t have a lot of choices. And there is plenty of quality within that quantity. Wine, whether cheap or expensive, sweet or dry, red or white, has never been better made.

Nevertheless, how many times have we said, “But I don’t like that" when someone has suggested we try something new. The Wine Curmudgeon is no different in that regard, and it sometimes takes all my professionalism to taste a wine I just know I’m not going to like. And, more often than not, my preconceived notion is wrong and I do like the wine. More, after the jump:

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